A-Level Composition CPD Extra Curricular GCSE General Key Stage 3

Technology is for Life not just Pandemics

During Lockdown have you started using technology more than ever? Have your eyes been opened to all that is on offer out there whether it be cloud based or software based?

Technology is for Life not just Pandemics, and in this blog I reflect on all I have learnt. I would hate all of the progress we have made to go to waste. It would also be a shame to have learnt how to use this stuff only to abandon it when we get back to School.

I am guessing like me you may have signed up to lots of free trials and subscriptions during lockdown. Well now is the time work out what you are going to keep and what to pay for out of your budget. I would say that some software is great for Free, but often you get what you pay for, or don’t pay for of course. It is well worth looking into subscribing to the services you have loved as they will continue to be useful even when you are back in the classroom.

What do I mean by Technology?

When I say Technology I am referring to a number of things – Hardware, Software, Websites and processes. I think that technology has been fundamental to teaching online, but I think some of it will stay with me. I will also reflect on how I am using technology differently compared to pre-pandemic days. I hope that you will find this useful and maybe reflect on all you have discovered, learnt and adopted.

Be thinking all of the websites you have used, the hardware you have added and the services you have subscribed to. Consider what you have signed up for and not used and look at the things that maybe you feel you will be able to use day to day in your classroom.

Technology is for Life not just Pandemics

I have broken this down into 10 areas and I hope that you find these useful as you consider the technology you use in your working life! I would love to hear from you if you have any other tips! Please comment below or feel free to email me!

1. Teams

Teams has been the platform of choice for my school and I have loved using it. Break-out rooms, assignment setting, rubrics ands meetings – I think it has been fantastic. I had been using Teams before the Pandemic, but I now feel I use it more efficiently and effectively. I love the idea of using it moron lessons for sharing work and tasks. This will mean that everything is kept in one place and if students do miss a lesson they can easily catch up.

2. Forms

I wanted to focus on Microsoft Forms because that is the tool I have used the most. It is the same idea as Google Forms and I am sure there are various other options available. What I have loved is that I can use Forms for Retrieval, Classwork, quizzes and questionnaires. I have loved seeing students completing work on forms and I can instantly gauge understanding.

3. Wacom

In January I finally got round to buying a Wacom One Tablet. I am so glad that I did and I would recommend them to any teacher out there. Not only can I now annotate musical scores & notes, but I can write liven screen for students to see. This has been so helpful for live lessons, but I am going to use it in my lessons. I usually write on the whiteboard and run out of space. Now I can write on screen and students can see what I write on their screen. It is nothing ground-breaking, and I bet loads of teacher do this already. But I love it and I am certainly going to take my Wacom One with me everywhere. I got the Medium one and I am glad I did. Works really well with Microsoft OneNote.

4. Online Offering

I have used so much online that it is hard to even collate it all! But there are some things that I have used a great deal for Lockdown Learning that I will continue to use in the classroom and for future lessons. Here is a list of some of my favourites:

  • Ableton Learning Music
  • Incredibox – This is lots of fun and yet has lots of potential for extension
  • Bandlab – Great because it is free and I will continue to use for Key Stage 3 homework and composition work.
  • I Can Compose – Amazing resources and more to come from Rachel!
  • Poll Everywhere – Great for in class polls and getting instant feedback and answers from students.
  • Steinberg Cubasis – Another great bit of Music Creation Software. I use Cubase in the classroom so it is great to have something students can use at home. Get in touch with Richard Llewellyn and he will help you out – r.llewellyn@steinberg.de
  • Future DJs Key Stage 3 & 4 resources – These are fantastic to use with Soundtrap, which I will discuss below. Email Adrian – schools@futuredjs.org
  • I have also loved running Parents Evening online and my school have been using Parents Booking
  • Webinars have been such a life saver and I am so grateful to Music Teachers Association & Musicmark for some great online CPD. This is something I will continue to look out – learning from the comfort of my home! I wouldn’t ever have imagined spending so much time in online seminars, but now I am hooked!

5. Soundtrap

Soundtrap is a great Cloud based DAW and I will be using it for homework going forward. I like it that I can set assignments and that students can work on it on any computer in the school. Whilst I have machines in my classroom, if they are in another computer room they can get on with their work there. I have also used Soundtrap for an Extra Curricular Composition club and this is something I will continue in the Summer Term. Future DJs have great resources for Soundtrap as mentioned above.

6. Noteflight & Focus on Sound Pro

Music First have so much to offer and I just love using Noteflight and Focus on Sound Pro. If you signed up for a free trial then do consider getting these two bits of software. You can also get your Soundtrap licenses from them, so it is a good way to bundle everything together in one price. Richard at Music First will be more than happy to help you – richard@musicfirst.com

Music First have organised a conference that is coming up in May that I would recommend to all Music Teachers. it is Free, on Zoom and in the evening so you can easily attend. Click here for more details and I hope to see you there!

Don’t miss this fantastic event!

7. Rode USB Mic

I got this microphone last term having not been able to get hold of one for a while. I love it! It sounds great, is easy to use and just plugs in really easily. I have been using it for all my lessons and zoom calls. It comes with all you need to get start, including the stand. I highly recommend this is you are looking to improve the quality of your recordings. I will be using this microphone for a long time now and I certainly think it is an essential piece of kit

8. Music Technology in the Classroom

I already use a large amount of Music Technology in the classroom and I know that will continue. I didn’t want to gloss over this, but instead thought I would highlight what I use regularly in case you were interested. I think lockdown learning has confirmed to me that actually physical instruments & technology are crucial for learning in music.

9. Padlet

I wanted to highlight this website because I think it is brilliant. If you are looking for a way to engage learners then this is it. You create a Padlet and they and they contribute towards it! This is great for things like listening diaries or timelines on music history. I guess you want to see one in action, so I thought I would create a Padlet for you to see and interact with. Feel free to use this Padlet to ask me questions about anything in this blog! it isn’t free, but I use it all the time and I love it!

Wider Listening Padlet that I use with my Sixth Form.
Wider Listening Padlet that I use with my Sixth Form.

10. Zoom

Zoom, ah Zoom! Do we love it or hate it? I guess a bit of both! We have all had to engage with Zoom over the last year and I for one think it is great. I have spent hours and hours on zoom doing various things. Catching up with friends, quizzes, murder mystery, online theatre. You name it, I have done it on Zoom. But frankly zoom is brilliant and I am going to continue to use it. Zoom can help with Extra Curricular revision sessions, clubs and groups. I have been running music revision on zoom and also a competition club. I think that Zoom will open up whole new avenues for music rehearsals, gatherings and extra curricular learning. Whilst I won’t let it replace live learning, I think it is a welcome addition.

The Future

Lockdown has given us a chance to learn so much! I have learnt how to do things that I have never even considered before. It is amazing to think about how interactive my online lessons have been, and I am going to try and keep this going. I hope that this blog has given you some things to think about. Also, I hope that like me, you might keep using some of this stuff when you go back to school. Look at those free trials and work out what you want to spend your budget on. It might be some new software or anew bit of hardware to enhance your learning. The future is looking good and I think that when we get back to our classrooms our students will benefit from all the new things we have adopted. We are always learning and can always develop our teaching practice.

Please do get in touch if you have any questions, or post them on the Padlet! I would love to know what works for you. And I hope you agree, Technology is for Life not just for Pandemics!

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